IVDA board members Pat Morris, left, and co-chair Josie Gonzales address the public at Friday’s special meeting. (Mark Zaleski/Staff Photographer)
10:31 PM PDT on Friday, September 23, 2011
BY KIMBERLY PIERCEALL
Just two days after the FBI and others raided San Bernardino International Airport searching for evidence that could be tied to conspiracy, bribery, fraud and money laundering, officials with the two public agencies that govern the airport offered little comment at a special meeting held Friday afternoon to discuss it.
Shortly after 4:30 p.m. members of the Inland Valley Development Agency and San Bernardino International Airport Authority immediately retreated into closed session to discuss legal matters. About an hour and 45 minutes later they emerged and said nothing about what was discussed behind closed doors.
On Wednesday, federal search warrants were served on the airport as well as the offices and rented home of Scot Spencer, the developer of most of the airport property who was convicted of bankruptcy fraud in the mid-1990s and later banned from the aviation industry. In addition to Spencer, several key airport figures were named in the warrant. Investigators sought evidence linking him with the airport’s executive director Donald L. Rogers and San Bernardino Mayor Patrick Morris, among others. Morris is the co-chair of the IVDA and president of SBIAA and was the only elected official mentioned in the search warrant.
FBI officials sought records dating as far back as Jan. 1, 2003, including any materials, “pertaining to any campaign contributions, money, gifts, or other things of value received by public officials …” according to a copy of the warrant.
Two individuals from the audience of less than 50 people spoke during the public comments portion of the meeting including John Rountree, the former president of Certified Aviation Services at the airport who is in the advanced stages of Lou Gehrig’s disease. Dorothy Rountree read her husband’s statement that said he hoped the FBI would uncover the truth.
“The board should be ashamed how you let a convicted felon and known con artist along with senior management manipulate you for years while it was so obvious to everyone else on the airfield who were conducting honest businesses,” she read from the statement that John Rountree painstakingly typed using a single finger on his iPad while waiting for the authority members to return from closed session.
A representative from Sasco, one of the private firms with contracts at the airport, asked the board if nearly two months of the company’s billings that were seized during the raid along with multitude of other records were in peril.
To read entire story, click here.